Course: Baltimore Food Systems: A Case Study of Urban Food Environments

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Interview Project

I. Overview

In pairs, students will conduct interviews with individuals from the city’s Food Policy Advisory Council (FoodPAC). Student pairs will transcribe the interviews and summarize them in a document of up to five pages double-spaced, 12 pt. Students will also share their interviews in TIMED 5 minute oral presentations. With your permission, findings from these interviews may be analyzed jointly and developed into manuscripts for journal publication.

We will brainstorm a list of interview questions in class. Key issues include:

Food PAC

  • Their experiences as a participant in Food PAC
  • Perceptions of Food PAC impacts
  • How Food PAC participation has benefited them/their organizations
  • Connections developed as a result of Food PAC participation

Baltimore Food System

  • Description of their efforts to address the city’s food system
    • Role/s as part of organized efforts
    • Descriptions of these efforts and their impacts
    • Stories about key people or moments

History and future

  • Recall of other events or efforts that have played key roles (negative and positive) in shaping the city’s food system as we know it today
  • Why and how the food system has changed
  • Their visions for the future

We will provide you with gift cards for movie theaters to give the interviewees.  It is permissible to interview someone outside of this list, after clearing it with us first.

II. Key Dates

  1. Students must demonstrate completion of CITI online human subjects training or equivalent by the fourth class session.  This is an IRB/JHSPH requirement.  Please document your completion of this requirement.
  2. 5-minute class presentations: ninth class session
  3. Assignments due by 5pm on the day of the ninth class session

III. Interview

  1. As noted, students must complete the CITI prior to conducting project interviews.
  2. Find a partner.  Discuss how you will coordinate roles throughout the project.
  3. We will have obtained contact information from interested individuals.  Each pair can arrange logistics based on their interviewee’s preference, including whether the interview will take place by phone or at the person’s workplace or elsewhere, and timing. 
  4. Obtain a voice recorder and test it.  Plan to arrive early and take along a gift card (Megan will have them).
  5. Obtain oral informed consent.
  6. Conduct interview.  Students may choose among the listed questions, and should be flexible in following up with points interviewees raise. One student should be taking notes while the other focuses on asking questions (take turns). Note-takers should try to capture nuances beyond the speaker's words themselves. In the interview:
    • Start the actual interview with easy questions to get you all comfortable
    • Avoid issues that may be uncomfortable for the speaker, and change the subject if any arise
    • Allow silences; ask open-ended questions; avoid interrupting
    • Close on a positive note, such as by asking about their visions for how to get to a healthier food system
  7. Wrap it up in 30 -45 mins.  (If the person seems to want to talk more, give them the option to continue a little longer, but really try not to exceed an hour). Express your gratitude to the interviewee. Give them the gift card. If someone ends the interview early, still give them the card in thanks for sharing with us.

IV. Paper

Transcribe the entire interview text (you can paraphrase your own words, but aim to get the interviewee’s actual statements.)  This transcription should be turned in along with the paper.

Papers should be up to 5 pages, double spaced.  We will grade papers based on assigning scores for the following components, so please identify them with headings.  Additional topic headings throughout the paper are strongly encouraged for organization and readability.

  • Brief background on the interviewee, such as period of time working on food system issues in Baltimore, organizational affiliation/s over time, and personal or demographic details.
  • The heart of the paper should present content and quotes from the interview.
  • Include a section of around 1 page with your reflections.

You do not have to cover all the listed interview topics, and you don't have to describe every issue you covered in the interview. We suggest you focus the paper on the issues you focused on most in the interview and particularly on the information you found most interesting.  This paper does not need any external references.  Please indicate the division of labor between research partners as a note at the end of the paper.